J. Allen Hynek
Dr. J. Allen Hynek, often called the "Father of Ufology, was professor of astronomy at Ohio State University, and later, chairman of the astronomy department at Northwestern University.
Hynek was born in Chicago to Czechoslovakian parents in 1910. In 1931, Dr. Hynek received a B.S. from the University of Chicago. In 1935, he completed his Ph.D. in astrophysics at Yerkes Observatory. He joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ohio State University in 1936. He specialized in the study of stellar evolution, and in the identification of spectroscopic binaries.
During World War II, Hynek was a civilian scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Science Laboratory, where he helped to develop the navy's radio proximity fuze.
After the war, Hynek returned to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ohio State, rising to full professor in 1950.
In 1956 he left to join Professor Fred Whipple, the Harvard astronomer, at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which had combined with the Harvard Observatory at Harvard. Hynek had the assignment of directing the tracking of an American space satellite, a project for the International Geophysical Year in 1956 and thereafter. In addition to 247 optical stations around the world, there were also 12 photographic stations. A special camera was devised for the task and a prototype was build and tested and then stripped apart again when, on Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched its first satellite, Sputnik.
After completing his work on the satellite program, Hynek went back to teaching, taking the position of professor and chairman of the astronomy department at Northwestern University in 1960.
In the 1950s and 1960s he was an astronomical consultant to the U S Government's "Project Blue Book." Hynek soon found that the Air Force's main course of action was to debunk UFO sightings, irregardless of the evidence.
After interviewing the reporters of sightings, and seeing that many of them were responsible and sane individuals, he began to change his mind. The UFO enigma could not be explained away so easily, he found.
In a 1985 interview, when asked what caused his change of opinion, Hynek responded, "Two things, really. One was the completely negative and unyielding attitude of the Air Force. They wouldn't give UFOs the chance of existing, even if they were flying up and down the street in broad daylight. Everything had to have an explanation. I began to resent that, even though I basically felt the same way, because I still thought they weren't going about it in the right way. You can't assume that everything is black no matter what. Secondly, the caliber of the witnesses began to trouble me. Quite a few instances were reported by military pilots, for example, and I knew them to be fairly well-trained, so this is when I first began to think that, well, maybe there something to all this."
After Bluebook closed shop in 1969, Hynek began the process of forming his own UFO research organization, composed of serious, open minded technical experts, and scientists.
In 1972, he published the landmark book, "The UFO Experience." This book would contain Hynek's system of categorizing UFO reports, which included the term, "close encounters," which is a standard for UFO classification to date. Included were a myriad of heretofore unknown UFO case files.
He started the Center for UFO Studies in 1973, and served as scientific director until his death in 1986. His center continues today in his namesake, and is highly regarded by the UFO community. His classification system is still used today as the standard for categorizing UFO reports.
On April 27, 1986, Dr. Hynek died of a malignant brain tumor at Memorial Hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 75 years old.
The Center for UFO Studies continues to investigate UFO sightings and to collect and evaluate UFO reports from around the world.